Welcome to Boston's Old City Hall
This building served as Boston's City Hall from 1865 until 1969, when it was renovated for use as an office building.
Boston's Old City Hall is one of the first examples of adaptive reuse. In the 1960's the concept of recycling out-dated public buildings was untried. The successful conversion (1969-1971) of Boston's City Hall into a restaurant and first class office building heralded the beginning of this new concept. It was widely publicized by the American Institute of Architects and became a model of successful redevelopment for underutilized municipal property. Old City hall became a role model, stimulating the reuse of landmark buildings across the United States in the 1970'sand 1980's, and this pioneer rehabilitation continues to win recognition.
1862 Cornerstone December 22, 1862 Architects: Gridley J. F. Bryant and Arthur Gilman
1970 National Historic Landmark
1973 Award for Preservation, Boston Society of Architects
1976 Honor Award, American Institute of Architects
1990 National Preservation Honor Award, National Trust for Historic Preservation
1994 Boston Preservation Alliance Creative Exterior Lighting Design
• the granite exterior in the French Second Empire style characterized by ornamented columns, the mansard roof, and the projecting center bay
• The massive front doors, unusual in the use of different wood as well as the inlay of the marble circle in each door
• The murals at the building entrances on School Street and Court Square illustrating the history of both the building and the site
• The marble plaque in the first floor lobby commemorating the laying of the cornerstone in 1862 by Mayor J.M. wightman and the dedication of the building in 1865 by Mayor F.W. Lincoln, Jr.
• The courtyard statues of Benjamin Franklin and Josiah Quincy (Note that Franklin is dressed in attire appropriate to his day while Quincy is draped in classical Greek attire. Franklin was the first portrait statue in the United States depicting the subject as he would actually appear rather than draped in classical heroic attire)
• The hopscotch in the School Street sidewalk recognizing this as the site of the first public school (1635), Boston Latin School
The site itself is significant in the history of the nation. The Boston Latin School (1635), the nation's first public school and the oldest educational institution in the country, stood here. Some notable figures in history who attended this school include: Cotton Mather, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and
In 1810, the Suffolk County Courthouse, designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch, was erected here. Remodeled by Gridley J.F. Bryant, it served as City Hall from 1841 until the government body outgrew the space in 1862. At that time it was demolished. The basement of the Bulfinch building was retained for use as the foundation of the existing structure and the granite blocks were reused in the new exterior walls of the rear (Court Square) and east side (City Hall Avenue).
By 1912, the city administration was again cramped for space. An annex was added at the rear of the building (now the Boston School Department building). Despite the additional space, an new city hall was needed and built in 1969. At that time, rather than demolish this structure, the City of Boston leased it to the Architectural Heritage Foundation, who rehabilitated it for use as an office building. Thus it remains today.
In its 104 years of use as the seat of city government, 27 mayoral administrations have guided the City of Boston from the chambers in this Old City Hall.
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
Location. 42° 21.471′ N, 71° 3.585′ W. Marker is in Boston, Massachusetts, in Suffolk County. Marker is on School Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Boston MA 02108, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Electric Fire Alarm System 1852 (here, next to this marker); Boston Public Latin School (here, next to this marker); The Parker House (a few steps from this marker); Public Latin School (a few steps from this marker); Benjamin Franklin (a few steps from this marker); Omni Hotels: The Parker House (within shouting distance of this marker); The Ice King, the Castle Captain, and the She-Merchant (within shouting distance of this marker); King’s Chapel (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Boston.
Categories. • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 28, 2014, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 268 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 28, 2014, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.